Friday, 25 May, 2018

No interim belt, no problem: Romero KOs Rockhold at UFC 221

Mandatory Credit Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Mandatory Credit Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Elias Hubbard | 12 February, 2018, 01:20

Rockhold is eligible to win a UFC interim middleweight title if he wins while Romero is not eligible after failing to make weight for the bout. First, the man named middleweight champion after Georges St-Pierre vacated the belt without defending it, Robert Whittaker, contracted a staph infection in his stomach and was forced to withdraw from his first title defense against Luke Rockhold. Part of the blame lies on Whittaker pulling out of the Rockhold fight at UFC 221, because if he was healthy Romero wouldn't have even been part of this discussion, as Romero was supposed to fight David Branch at UFC Orlando.

After beating Michael Bisping to claim UFC gold in the 185lbs division, the Canadian superstar shortly vacated the title with UFC promoting Whittaker to undisputed status, scheduling him against Luke Rockhold.

It was a tactic the 26-year-old upstart would turn to eight more times over the final two rounds to grind out a unanimous decision victory over the veteran knockout artist, earning him the biggest win of his career and pushing his unbeaten streak to five.

"Romero took this fight on short notice when [Robert] Whittaker fell out, and he didn't get a full camp", White said, per Okamoto. Looking to avoid more damage Rockhold circled away as Romero chased him down against the fence.

Romero hit the sauna in a bid to lose the excess weight, but when he returned he weighed in at 187.7.

His natural power and relentless pressure eventually paid off in the third round as he clipped Rockhold with an explosive overhand left, swatting the American to the canvas. However, the UFC middleweight champ was sidelined with a litany of injuries, meaning Yoel Romerowas parachuted in to take on Luke Rockhold for the interim middleweight championship.

Hunt landed a huge shot to drop Blaydes early in the fight, prompting Blaydes to turn to his wrestling.

The fight kicked off at a glacial pace, with Rockhold establishing the distance and picking at Romero with leg kicks. Rockhold was reportedly awarded 30% of Romero's purse which is said to have totalled about $100,000. Rockhold is a very good athlete and an awesome fighter. "So there's a bit of time to figure out what's going to happen in the weight division".

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